Smooth Softshell

Apalone mutica


Smooth Softshells are a soft-shelled turtle species found in rivers and streams of south and southwest Mississippi, as well as long the Mississippi river. These turtles are brown or tan, females being larger and vaguely mottled, while males may have small markings throughout. This species can be differentiated from the more-common spiny shoftshell by the front margin of the carapace. The front edge of the shell near the head will be smooth and devoid of bumps or protuberances. Smooth Softshell nares are also round, whereas other species are not. 

A female Gulf Coast Smooth Softshell resting on a log, George Co. (MS)

Identifying Traits

  • Smooth front margin of carapace
  • Round nares

Subspecies Present:

Midland Smooth Softshell (Apalone mutica mutica)

Gulf Coast Smooth Softshell (Apalone mutica calvata)


Stream and river habitats related to the Mississippi River and Gulf Coast river systems



Juveniles may burrow into sand near water’s edge


Carnivorous, various invertebrates, fish, other reptiles or amphibians

A. mutica (bottom) compared to A. spinifera (top), Jones Co. (MS), © Grover Brown